Published on July 8, 2015 by Kathryn Harroff  

Recently there has been a lot interest around co-branding and the how cities are matched to mega sporting events. It is well known that there is a correlation between urban development and sporting events. There are many examples of sports teams that have seemingly “revamped” a struggling city or downtown area. So what is the real drive behind the revitalization?

Research has suggested that there are direct economic benefits. The benefit comes with the brand awareness. Not only is awareness important for the sporting event or team, but it is crucial for the host city as well. This is where co-branding comes in. This is a growing technique that is knows as synergy between two or more brands, or positively linking one brand to another.

When thinking of sports events and cities, the two almost automatically link. Most often, the Olympics come to mind first or your favorite pro sports team. Regardless, they all have a destination attached.

It is important to point out that there is a difference between a major sports event and a minor one. In his research, Petter Furuseth discusses the benefits of minor sporting events writing, “these events can have a major positive impact on community spirit and morale…the event can also strengthen civic pride, leading to a stronger sense of loyalty towards the city. Loyal residents are a city's best ambassadors.” (Furuseth 7)

Moving more towards co-branding of major sporting events, what does it take for a city and the event to succeed? Research from the associative memory model shows that for an event to be successful, there must be common associations built around or during the event.

For this to happen, a person must have experience and information with the brand: it is important to get people to the events. The success happens when someone either participates in the event or has some sort of positive experience with it. This is why reading the newspaper, or watching a recap on the television is not enough. Along with the experience, a person must have a positive memory to associate with the event.

Further studies suggest that existing residents of the destination city are sometimes the best tools. A brand, especially that of city or place, cannot rely on facts or images alone, and residents are able to influence place marketing.

Lastly, a benefit of a sports co-branding strategy is the length in communication. When compared to a magazine ad, or a commercial before a video online, there is a return on investment that these are not able to provide. Sporting events provide a much longer and more lasting communication strategy. Not only does it happen during the event, but also many people will talk about their experience for days to come.

This blog post was written by Samford University student Kathryn Harroff.

Works Cited

Furuseth, Petter. "Sports Events as a Communication Platform, and the Impact on Destination Branding." Kenneth Cortsen, 24 May 2015. Web. 17 June 2015.